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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 2)


classic-booksIn my last blog post, I have discussed few ways through which you can make your new hire understand your company’s goals and objectives. In this blog, I will provide you some tips on how you can make your new hire acquainted to your team culture and communication channels.

Talk about the rules: After you have explained your strategic objectives and work culture, now it’s time for you to explain her about your expectations. Some of the managers leave it unsaid. But I prefer to talk to all of my employees about the performance expectations. In this way, they can specifically know what they have signed up for, and you can avoid having performance improvement talks later. You can start this conversation by establishing clear goals and priorities for her; and then you can progress towards expected employee’s behavior, your feedback process, and how her work will be evaluated. Don’t forget to outline the path through which you will help her to be successful.

The Team: Providing an understanding of the team’s roles and responsibilities is very key to the new hire’s success. This will make sure that she doesn’t step on someone’s foot, and she can know who is ultimately responsible and who has the decision making authority. During this discussion, you should explain her how your team supports company’s goals and objectives. This will give her the overall picture of your team, and where it fits in to the organization. And yeah! Don’t forget to discuss the procedures & norms under which your team operates. For example: Our team follows an agile development process, where each engineer is paired with one another team member for the development of a particular feature. Last but not the least, identify the people who can help her during her first few months in the company, and how they prefer to communicate.

Communication: Being a software development manager for years, I have seen various managers failed to provide this information to their employees. As a result, you have a new geeky employee who got herself acquainted to only e-mails, and you have to wait for her e-mail response for feedback. Thus, I would advise you to have these conversations beforehand. Convey to your new employee how you would prefer to be communicated, and what should be the frequency of those communications. For example: I expect an e-mail response within 1-2 hours. In case of a blocking issue, I want you to call me up instead of waiting for me to reply to your e-mail. And yeah! Explain how your employees prefer to communicate with themselves.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the growth opportunities within your organization.

Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 1)


I have written numerous blogs about how to familiarize yourself with your new job, but I have never focused on writing the other side of the story. In this blog series, I will provide some guidelines which can help you to conduct useful conversations with your new employees during the onboarding process. I hope that you can create a positive onboarding experience for your employees through these tips.

Talk about strategic objectives: Obviously, you need to have several conversations between you and the new employee over first 6-7 months, but make sure to make the strategic objectives as your primary conversation topic. This will not only make her understand the relationship between her tasks and the objectives of your company, but it will help you to make her understand the overall picture. You can start this discussion by talking about the company’s vision and strategy; and then you can progress towards explaining her the company’s goals, priorities and business initiatives. During this discussion, you should always ensure that you try to connect company’s goals and your team’s goals with her day-to-day activities. This practice will help you in making her an autonomous resource of your team, who can connect the dots by herself.

Talk about the culture: I have seen various managers, who fails to explain the existing culture of their company to a new hire. They think that the new hire will catch up on the company’s culture with time. While this perception has some credibility, I would advise not to do that. If you would have explained the company’s culture to the new hire during the onboarding process, then it will make her transition easier and smooth, while you can benefit from her understanding of the existing culture. You can initiate this conversation by describing her the culture of the company including company’s norms, beliefs, values, traditions, symbols, etc. For example: our working hours are 8-5pm, and all the employees are supposed to be present on the company premises between our core hours – 9am to 4pm.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the rules of your team.

Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to deal with a poor performer in your team?


Have you ever encountered a situation where you had to have a difficult conversation with your employees? Or have you ever put any employee on a Performance Improvement plan? It is very unfortunate that some of the Managers try to avoid those situations. Instead of having appropriate conversation with their employees, they try to avoid those situations. Well, I am not a master of these conversations by any means, but I have few tips through which you can handle this situation well.

Verbal discussion: Let say, you have a poor performer in your team. And despite of your numerous efforts to improve his performance, he didn’t improve. In this situation, I would advise you to have a personal discussion with him, if you haven’t done that already. This one-on-one discussion will give you an opportunity to explain your concern about his performance, while it will give him an opportunity to explain his side of the story. The purpose of this meeting should be to let him know about your concerns, so that he can correct those behaviors.

Document your concerns: After you had your verbal discussion, you should always make sure to document those communications via e-mails or memos. This will help you not only in any legal proceedings that might arise in the future but it will also help you to reiterate your point. Your e-mail should contain summary of your discussion reinforcing your message and the place where this discussion took place. It’s a good idea to let the employee know that they will be receiving a follow up email after the meeting. Explain that it is to ensure each party is on the same page regarding discussion points. This can circumvent the perception that you are using the email for “tracking” purposes only.

Follow-up discussion: You should never have a discussion with someone, and then not follow up with that. I would advise you to schedule a follow-up meeting regarding your verbal discussion as soon as you send the follow-up e-mail. Of course this meeting might not happen within 1-2 months, but it’s always a good practice to keep a checkpoint on these kind of discussions to make sure that you don’t forget it. And yeah! Make sure to have a specific agenda for this meeting. For example: specific projects that he might be working on, his performance improvement within last month, action plan to success, time frame for improvement, etc. Don’t forget to include all the consequences clearly and visibly in this meeting request. This will ensure that your employee is aware of all the consequences before you decide to take any action.

I hope these tips will help to become a better manager and effectively deal with your poor performers. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can effectively deal with your poor performing employee. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Are you working for a bad Boss? Here are few tips to deal with the situation


Have you been in a situation where your Boss takes all the credit of your work and makes you responsible for his mistakes? Does your Boss never listen to you, or at least you feel he doesn’t? I am sure that 10-20% of my readers must have been through these situations at least once. Though I might not have a magical solution to correct this problem, I can recommend few steps through which you can get yourself out of these situations.

Do self-assessment first: I am a huge believer of second chances. Thus, I would recommend you to self-assess yourself before blaming your Boss. I am not saying that you are a cry baby, and you have a problem of crying no matter what your Boss does for you. Sometimes there is a perception difference between how you see things and how your Boss sees the same thing. Thus, before taking any action, you want to get rid of these variables. You can do this assessment by observing your Boss’s behavior towards other colleagues. You can also ask your colleagues about your behavior, and your Boss’s behavior towards you. This will give you some good insight on identifying the exact problem.

Move-on but document: Let’s say, you found out through your self-assessment process that your Boss is being unreasonable to you. In that case, you can still have a fresh start. It’s never too late to forgive someone. Try forgiving your Boss for his past behavior, and try to have a fresh start. But this time, take the ball in your hand. Take initiatives to objectify your goals and document your achievements. For example: If you are working on a project, and you got praised by your colleague or your customer, then keep those documents aside in one file. This kind of information, justifying your achievements, will help you when you want to confront your Boss about your progress.

Have a friend in upper management: I am not intending to bribe anyone or going out of your way to please someone. I am just saying that you should keep good relationships with your Boss’s Boss. If you don’t know how to initiate or cultivate these relationships then I have one advice for you – “Lunch”. I would recommend you to invite your Boss’s Boss for a lunch. This will give you an informal setting, where you can discuss your issues with him. Once you feel comfortable enough with this relationship, you can e-mail him about your achievements in a monthly e-mail. This practice will give you some visibility to upper management, and in case of issues with your immediate Boss, you can ask for help from Boss’s Boss.

Quit your job: After you have exhausted all of your options, and they don’t seem to be working, then you should think of getting an another job. You don’t want to be stuck in a job, where you don’t find any opportunity of growth. But don’t quit your job right away. Be patient and keep working hard, until you find a reasonably good offer. In the meanwhile, you should start collecting references and recommendation letters from your colleagues, customers, and old Bosses. Make sure to document all of your achievements and interesting projects for your job search. And yeah! Don’t do the same mistake again. Try to find a new job, where you can produce measurable results, and your performance depends on your deliverables, and not on your Boss’s perception of you.

I hope these tips will give you some idea about how to deal with a bad boss. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can work at a workplace where your Manager doesn’t value you that much. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – how to hire someone?


Recently, I have opened up a new position in my team for Internship. And when I was going through the hiring process, I realized that there are many new managers who would make hiring mistakes unknowingly. Through this blog, I want to provide some guidelines for hiring a new person in your team, so that you can avoid those common mistakes.

Ask your Manager for help: If you are a new manager, and if you haven’t hired anyone before, then you might want to start the hiring process by asking your Manager instead of going with the HR training guidelines. I am not saying that HR Training for new manager is not useful, but sometimes those kind of trainings are very general. Those training might provide you required information, but they wouldn’t tell you specifics about processes followed in your department. If you ask your manager for help then he will be able to guide you in the right direction. And by asking your manager’s help, you are making sure that he is involved in your first hiring decision.

Involve your team: I have seen many managers, who hires independently of their team member’s decision. I would definitely advice against that practice. As a manager, you should always involve your team members in your hiring decision. This will serve many purposes. For example: This will not only tell your employees that you care about their opinion but also it will internally motivate them. This hiring practice will make sure that your employees don’t have any issues later on, when the new hire comes onboard. And you will have few more people to support your hiring decision.

Create a skill-set table: If you are hiring someone for the first time, then I would recommend you to create a skill-set table. This table doesn’t need to be a fancy and descriptive table, it can be a simple Excel Sheet of all the required skills for this position. For example: C, C++, SQL, Self-starter, Critical thinker, etc. Once you have this table ready, make sure to carry this table in all of the interviews that you take. Make sure to distribute this list to all the interviewers, so that they can grade that candidate on these skills. This table will not only work for you as a record of candidate’s capabilities, but it will also give you the opportunity to compare every candidate equally.

I hope these tips will help you to hire a new person in your team without any major mistakes. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can improve your hiring process for a first time manager. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to demonstrate your value to your new Manager?


Have you ever felt that your Manager doesn’t know your value in the team? Have you ever been in a situation, where you think that you are exceeding your goals, while your performance review says something else? If you ask me, these are very common situations in professional world. I only manage 10-12 people at this time, but it becomes harder to provide personal attention to everyone in the team. So, imagine if you were to manager more than 20 people. It becomes next to impossible to provide personal attention to everyone.

I guess, my colleague (let’s call her Mrs. X) encountered a similar situation. Mrs. X came to me the other day, and told me that her new manager rated her performance really badly. I saw her past performance reviews, and they were all saying that she was above average employee in all of them. So, what happened so suddenly? Well, in her case…..she got a new Manager just few months back. And he might not have knew her potential yet.

If you were Mrs. X, what would you have done? Before I hear your answers, I would like to share my advice that I have given to her.

Meet with your Manager: If I were Mrs. X, I would have met with my Manager immediately and I would have discussed my performance review with him directly. If possible, ask your Manager if your Ex-Manager can be in this meeting too. If he allows your Ex-Manager to be in the meeting, then you can strengthen your case by getting his feedback to make your case even stronger. Make sure to give some background to your Ex-Manager before he comes to this meeting, so that he can come prepared.

Prepare your case before the meeting: Please don’t show up in that meeting without any preparation. This will look really bad on your side. So, please do a favor to yourself and prepare your case.

  • Make a list of all the accomplishments that you have done this year.
  • Highlight some of the biggest achievements that you have accomplished during the year.
  • Make sure to take your older performance reviews from HR and bring it to the meeting.
  • Jot down few points explaining why you think that you are above average employee.

Suggest some possible solutions: You can’t be right all the time. Let’s say, there is a huge conflict between your perception and his perception of your work. In this situation, rather than getting mad at your Boss, you should try to suggest some solutions. This will demonstrate to your Manager that he can trust you on taking initiative and understanding his point of view. You can start your conversation by saying “What I can do is…….we can work together to create some SMART goals for me, and let’s monitor my performance through that. In that way, we will both have shared accountability, and I will have some measurable outcome against which I can measure my performance. Also, we can arrange one-on-one periodically to go over my performance, so that we can track my progress in a better way.”

I hope these tips will help you to prove yourself in front of your new Manager. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can demonstrate your value to your new Manager. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – power of tools


ToolsIn my last blog, I have given you some general ideas on how to introduce yourself to your team during your first meeting, and how to use pictorial presentation in knowing your people better. In this blog, I will talk about few basic tools that you should acquire during your first few week as a Manager to make your task easier.

Get business cards: This is one of the important thing to do before you meet with anyone. In your first few weeks as a Manager, you will meet various people with whom you might be working in the future. Thus, it is very crucial for you to provide them with your contact information. If your business cards are not ready by the time you meet them, then take their e-mail ids instead. In this way, you can provide them with your contact information using an outlook contact card for temporary purposes. And provide them with actual business cards, once they become available.

Get equipped: First thing that you should do on your first day is to introduce yourself to the administrative assistant. Make sure to ask him/her about what equipments you might need for your job. For example: it might be crucial for your job to be accessible 24×7. In that case, you need to make sure that you order your Smart Phone or Blackberry. In the meanwhile, make sure to provide your personal cell phone number to your manager, so that he can reach you in case of emergency.

Get your notebook: During your first few weeks, you will get more information than you consume. You will get contact information of the people that you will be working with, you will get list of projects that your team is supposed to work on, and their current status. Thus, it would be a nice idea to make a note of all these things. I personally prefer a note taking software like OneNote, but if you don’t have access to a laptop then a normal notebook should work too.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in your first couple of weeks as a Manager. If you are aware of any other tools that might prove helpful for a newly hired manager, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – power of presentations


In my last blog, I have given you some general idea about how meeting with your employees and your Manager on one-on-one basis will help you to understand the priorities of that team, and building a trust relationship between you and them. In this blog, I will talk about few presentations that might help you during your first few days as a Manager.

Presentation about yourself: I would recommend every manager to prepare a small presentation about themselves before they meet their team for the first time. The presentation should contain few basic information such as – basics about yourself, your management style, and your background. Keep this presentation pictorial only, i.e. presentation with only pictures, so that you can speak to your presentation instead of involving people in reading your presentation. This presentation will serve dual purpose, it will give you the opportunity to connect with your people personally and set up your priorities straight.

Presentation about your people: After you have presented your presentation during your first meeting with your team, you should arrange a team meeting with your employees, where they are supposed to do the same. Tell your employees to create a presentation about themselves with few pictures, where they can express their background, education, interests, family, etc. These presentations will give you the opportunity to know something about your employees that you might not have known otherwise. Also, this presentations might help you to find their interests and motivation criterias.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in your first couple of weeks as a Manager. If you know any other ways to build know your employees and introduce yourself to your new team, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – power of One-on-One meetings


SurvivalBagRecently, one of my friend got promoted to a management position for the first time. And when I talked to him over the weekend, he asked my advice on providing him a game plan. Thus, I came up with the idea of this blog series, where I will provide few practical tips for first time managers. In this particular blog post, I will provide you with few tips through which you can clarify success criteria for your new manager’s position.

One-on-one with your Manager: I have seen various managers coming to their new position and hit the ground running. They meet their internal/external stakeholders and team members, but they forget to meet with their Manager in the process. One should always remember that your Manager is the one, who will judge your performance at the end of the fiscal year and he might have a better idea about the business than your other stake holders. Thus, I would recommend you to meet with your Manager one-on-one every week, until you get up to speed with what are his priorities and why did he hire you for this position. This meeting will also give you the opportunity to show your work to him during the first 90 days, so that you can get his trust.

One-on-one with your Employees: Another common mistake made by the first time manager is – they concentrate too much on team development but not on personal development aspect of the team. I have seen many managers holding a team building exercise in the first two week’s of their employment, but they forget to connect with each employees on one-on-one basis. No matter how big is your team, it would be best if you can get some time to meet with your team on one-on-one basis (at least for first few weeks). This will not only provide you the information about existing processes, priorities and projects; but also help you in knowing your people and building a trust relationship between you and them. Thus, make sure to meet with each individual in your team on one-on-one basis for at least first one month.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in your first couple of weeks as a Manager. If you know any other ways to build a trust relationship with your employees and your Manager within first few weeks, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Become better at delegating (Part 1) – How to improve trust relationship with your employees?


OwnershipI used to be a perfectionist. I always used to think that….. if I do certain things by myself, then it would be much better than others. As I matured in my career and took on more responsibilities, it was becoming difficult. There was one time, when I found myself working over 12 hours a day, and still not be able to finish all the work I had. At that time, I was managing a team of 4-6 people, and still I was unable to delegate my work effectively. It was a complete mess and I thought to myself…….I need some help. Thus, I took few leadership classes and attended few seminars, and implemented few strategies to make my life easier. It had been few years now, and I am again on top of my game. Hence, I would like to share my experience with you through these series of blog posts. I hope it helps you to become better at delegation.

Start trusting your employees…….. I know it sounds silly when I say that. But this is the key part in delegating tasks/work. If you are a ‘Type A’ personality like me, then you would rather do everything by yourself.  And by doing so, you are not only overworking yourself but you are not allowing your employee’s to grow. You can implement following strategies to establish that trust relationship between you and your employees, before you can actually start delegating major tasks to them.

  • One-on-one lunch: Take them out for lunch and talk about their personal lives, their interests and personal establishments. If you take interest in their lives, they would definitely return the favor by helping you out in your work problems.
  • Meet for Golf: Try to find few hobbies which are common between you and your employees. It will help you to socialize with your employees more often, and it will put your employees in a state where they will feel comfortable in coming to you if there is any problem.
  • Provide training: If you don’t trust your employee’s technical abilities to do something, then provide them the needed training. But your task doesn’t end there. In order for you to be comfortable with their technical capabilities, you should develop a system where you can review their work/training on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. This mechanism will give you confidence on your employee’s technical capabilities, so that you can start delegating few challenging tasks to them.
  • Morning rounds: I don’t want you to micro manage your employees, but I want you to go to them every morning and ask…how they are doing. This will serve two purposes. It will convey a message to them that you are there, if they need you. And second……it will give you more face time with them, which will help you strengthen your working relationship.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in trusting your employees and becoming better at delegating tasks. If you know any other ways to become better at delegation, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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